Effects of the Ultrasound Contrast-Enhancing Agent Levovist® on the Detection of Intracranial Arteries and Stenoses in Chinese by Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound

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Proper assessment of intracranial arteries by transcranial Doppler sonography (TCD) in patients with intracranial stenoses is occasionally made difficult by an insufficient temporal bone window, an unfavourable insonation angle, or low flow velocity or volume. This condition is frequently found in Chinese. In these cases, echocontrast could be helpful. We investigated 48 temporal windows of 24 acute Chinese stroke patients with insufficient native transtemporal insonation conditions before and after the application of the echo enhancer Levovist® (galactose/palmitic acid) by an injection pump. We classified the signal quality from four segments of the main intracranial arteries: anterior cerebral artery (A1), main stem of the middle cerebral artery (MCA, M1), intracranial segment of the carotid artery (C1), and posterior cerebral artery (P1). The signal quality was classified as follows: 0 = no signal, 1 = poor, envelope curve does not follow spectrum, 2 = adequate, envelope curve follows spectrum. As compared to the pre-contrast scans, echocontrast allowed for more segments to be evaluated by pulsed Doppler sonography. Before Levovist, only 12% of the segments could be detected, after Levovist 63%. For all arteries, signal quality was better after Levovist, p between 0.0180 and 0.0003. In 3 patients, MCA stenoses with peak systolic Doppler flow velocities above 160 cm/s were found only after Levovist. In patients with poor pre-contrast detection, echocontrast-enhanced TCD allows for more arterial segments to be insonated and for the detection of stenoses unnoted during the non-enhanced investigation.

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